Formal Degree Preps Next Generation of Security Professionals

Associate in Applied Science Degree

The Security Industry Association (SIA) has teamed up with Mercer County Community College in New Jersey to offer the Associate in Applied Science Degree in Security Systems Technology. The degree program is one of the very few ways that students can gain experience in the security industry through a formal education program, and many security companies have express interest in hiring such students.

The Mercer associate’s degree prepares students for jobs that support the selling, installation and management, and technical support of physical security systems technologies in an IP-based networked environment. Independent security consultant Chris Peckham is teaching the first course of the semester—SST 200, Physical Security Product Technologies, which begins on Jan. 26. Peckham and Rob Hile of GC&E Systems Group, another contributing professor for the degree program, discussed the program objectives in a recent webcast.

The Associate in Applied Science Degree in Security Systems Technology outcomes include:

  • Understand, configure and install physical security hardware and software, cameras and optics, access control systems, video management systems as well as fire and burglar systems, and perform control station monitoring.
  • Understand, describe and implement physical security practices and procedures.
  • Understand, describe and implement computer network protocols and standards.
  • Use appropriate documentation and work as individuals and groups.

The program prepares students for careers as installation technician, network administrator, sales professional, security project manager, design and consulting principal, or physical security manager (including chief security officer). These are stable careers in a growing industry, Hile emphasized. Hile himself started as an installation technician more than 30 years ago and eventually became a corporate CEO in the security industry.

SST 200, Physical Security Product Technologies, covers access control and identity management systems; video surveillance; video management systems; analytics; perimeter protection; physical security identity management; building and home automation; and alarms and monitoring centers.

The next class, SST 210, Security Project Management, explores security project management fundamentals, security project management concepts, access control and video system applications, life safety and building codes, project financial management, and managing the project team.

Hile is excited to teach SST 220, Systems Integration: A Business Blueprint, a 10-week course that starts in late February. It covers business objectives, marketing, service, personnel management, and accounting and finance in the security industry.

Finally, this semester, SST 230, Security Sales: The Consultative Approach, reviews organizing the sales effort, identifying the security problem, identifying the security solution, managing the customer and following up with post-implementation tasks.

In closing, Hile said, “I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years, and I’m really excited about what we’re doing together with SIA and Mercer County Community College. One of the biggest challenges I’ve had through my career is finding quality individuals who want to get into the security field. This is a great way to do that.

“If you’re looking for a long-term career that has huge potential for growth and earnings, this is where you want to go. Companies like ours are going to be looking at graduates of this program to bring them into it because they already have a great foundation coming out of this program,” Hile added.

Students interested in learning more about the program can contact Jeff Weichert, Mercer Program Coordinator, at

Established security professionals interested in developing course curriculum or delivering content for the program: please contact Kelly Sims at 301-804-4712 or

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